Densho Digital Archive
Oregon Nikkei Endowment Collection
Title: Emiko Namba Kikkawa Interview
Narrator: Emiko Namba Kikkawa
Interviewer: Katie Namba
Location: Portland, Oregon
Date: January 12, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-kemiko-01

<Begin Segment 1>

KN: Today is Sunday, January 12, 2014. We are in Portland, Oregon, my name is Katie Namba. I am a volunteer with the Oregon Nikkei Endowment. Today I will be interviewing Emiko Namba Kikkawa as part of the Minidoka Oral History Project. The videographer is Ian McCluskey, there are three observers in this room, and they are Betty Jean Harry, Marcia Stong and Eugene Stong. Thank you for taking the time to do this today.

EK: You're welcome.

KN: First of all, can you start by stating your full name?

EK: Emiko Namba.

KN: And where were you born?

EK: Portland, Oregon.

KN: And can you tell me about when you were born and more about specifically where? In a house or...

EK: Well, I understand it was, my parents were living in a hotel on Third and Davis or Couch, and I was born there, in Portland, Oregon.

KN: And do you know if the hotel was Japanese-owned, and do you remember the name of the hotel?

EK: It was... I don't exactly remember the name. The name changed to Teikoku Hotel, but I think it had another name before that when I was born. I'm not sure.

KN: And can you state your birth date for me?

EK: January 4, 1919. [Laughs]

KN: And is there any significance to your name?

EK: Well, Japanese name always has a meaning, and my name, e is for "grace," and mi is for "beauty," and ko stands for "girl." So you understand what my name stands for. They all named, they figure out what your first name, for you to fit into your... that's the way I understand.

KN: Wonderful. And what is your father's name?

EK: Etsuo Namba.

KN: And can you spell Etsuo, please?

EK: E-T-S-U-O.

KN: Thank you. And what kind of work did your father do?

EK: Well, I'm not quite sure, but I think he worked in a sawmill, and I think he was a cook for a while, I don't know exactly, but then he did, we did start a farm.

KN: Do you know about what time your father came to America?

EK: I think he came in 1916 or so, (...) they were married before he came, and he went back to Japan I think in 1917 and brought her back.

KN: What kind of, what was the family trade that your father grew up in in Japan? What did his parents do?

EK: Well, he was the second son, and you know how it is, the first son gets the property, and he either had to move out or go as a yoshi, you know what it is? Be adopted by another family and take their name, so he came to Portland.

KN: Can you tell me where he is from in Japan?

EK: He's from Okayama, Japan.

KN: And is there a specific part of Okayama that he was from?

EK: Yeah... I can't think of the name.

KN: That's okay. If it comes back to you, we can come back to that. Do you know anything about his family, how many siblings he had?

EK: He had one older brother that took over the family name.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

KN: And what about your mother? What was your mother's name?

EK: Shizuno Nakayama was her maiden name.

KN: And can you spell her first name, please?

EK: S-H-I-Z-U-N-O, Nakayama is her maiden name.

KN: And what kind of work did your mother do in Japan, do you know?

EK: Actually, I don't think she worked, but she was only seventeen, and she got married right away and she was going to school. But then when she married into the Namba family, two years, I think, before she was married, they sent her to a girl's school.

KN: And do you know anything more about her family, how many siblings she had?

EK: She had two brothers and three sisters, I think, and she was the oldest. And the youngest one was born after she came to America, so she didn't know her at all.

KN: And did any of those siblings ever come to America? Was she the only one?

EK: Yeah, she was the only one.

KN: And can you tell me where your mother was from in Japan?

EK: Neighboring city, Minochi (Okayama) it was called.

KN: And do you know how your father and your mother met? Do you know how they met?

EK: Well, they were cousins, and so they knew each other, and so he went back and forth and finally married her.

KN: And do you know what their age difference is? The age difference?

EK: I know that my mother was sixteen or seventeen, and he was eight years older than she was.

KN: When your mother came to America, what did she do?

EK: Well, she just, they had this meeting right away, so she actually didn't work.

KN: And do you know how long you stayed living in the hotel on Third and Davis?

EK: I don't know anything about how long they stayed.

KN: And after Third and Davis, where did you live?

EK: I don't remember anything. Only thing I remember was I think I was about five years, they rented a place in Gresham and they farmed there for two years, and then they had a chance to rent a place in Fairview where I grew up.

KN: Can you tell me a little bit more about the first place in Gresham? Do you know about where it was at?

EK: In Gresham? I know it was on Powell, I don't exactly remember. But only thing I remember is they had a hand pump inside the house. I can remember I used to...

KN: And what kind of work was done on the farm at the first farm in Gresham?

EK: Well, he raised vegetables there.

KN: And can you tell me anything about the neighbors?

EK: No, I don't remember. I was only five.

KN: And so at that time, were you the only child or did you have siblings at that time?

EK: No, my next brother was born there, and then... let's see, and then my sister Marie, they were expecting Marie, so I was five when we moved, that's when we moved to Fairview on that farm where we grew up.

KN: And can you tell me how many siblings you have?

EK: I had Marie, Kenny, and Aki, (and Tomomi).

KN: And do you know what the age difference between all of you are?

EK: Oh, we were two years apart.

KN: From each individual person?

EK: Uh-huh.

KN: What was it like growing up in the home? How was Grandpa and Grandma?

EK: Well, my father was very strict, and my mother just listened to what he said. I don't remember too much.

KN: What did your mother do when she was... what kind of responsibilities did your mother have in the home?

EK: She just took care of the kids and if she had time, she helped on the farm.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

KN: And then let's talk about moving to the Fairview farm. Do you know about what year that was?

EK: Let's see, I started school in 1925, and so it was about two years before.

KN: And I think you had mentioned that your sister, Marie, was born on that farm?

EK: Uh-huh.

KN: Did any of your siblings have, go to the hospital to be born?

EK: No, we all had midwives, but the last one, Aki, I think, had a doctor, and he was born at home, too.

KN: Do you remember when you moved from the farm to, the farm in Gresham on Powell to the farm in Fairview? Do you remember packing up your belongings and moving?

EK: No, I don't remember. I was only five, I guess. I don't remember.

KN: What do you remember of your childhood at the farm on Fairview?

EK: Well, I just had a nice life, fought with the boys. [Laughs]

KN: What did you like to do in your spare time?

EK: You mean at home? Well, I remember my mother, during the summer, she was intent on teaching me Japanese. And I studied Japanese during the summer, and then she'd always want to review what we had at school, and so I had to read to her. Of course, she didn't understand. But anyway, that's the way I spent the summer vacation. And then the teacher that I had the first year was real understanding, and she knew I didn't understand English, so she was very kind to me.

KN: What school did you go to?

EK: Fairview grade school. It was a four-room, when I started, it was a four-room wooden building, and it had a big furnace that burned sawdust. And we had a janitor that took care of that, and he kept it warm during the night so that it would be warm when we were there in the morning. And we had to walk to school. We didn't have a bus until I was in the third grade.

KN: And what were those walks like? Were they far?

EK: The what?

KN: Was it a far walk to go to school?

EK: Yeah, it was almost a mile. And then we walked in the rain and snow, my dad didn't have time to take us. So sometimes if it rained too hard, he'd be at school to pick us up. But I remember I had boots, but my clothes were wet, my boots were soaking. The teacher was real kind, and she let me sit by the furnace. [Laughs]

KN: What do you remember about your classmates? Were there very many Japanese students in the class?

EK: No, I remember I was the only Japanese there at that time. But I did make a few friends.

KN: And how were, do you remember in grade school experiencing any prejudice at that point?

EK: No, I don't.

KN: How, what was your life like in the community of Fairview? Who were your neighbors?

EK: Well, there was a neighbor, one neighbor was, they had a nursery. I don't know if you remember Frank Schmidt was my friend, I used walk to school. They had this big nursery farm in Gresham, and I used to walk with him to school. And I don't know, but we had a lard pail, and we carried our lunch in that, and Frank and I used to walk to school.

KN: What did you pack in your lunch pail?

EK: Well, she usually made peanut butter sandwich and fruit and cookie.

KN: No Japanese food?

EK: No Japanese food.

KN: Who... living on the farm, what were your duties that you had to do?

EK: Well, I had to look after my siblings. [Laughs] Every time I came home from school, Mom was right there, and I had to look after them.

KN: Did you help with the cleaning and the cooking?

EK: Uh-huh.

KN: Do you remember your mother teaching you Japanese customs?

EK: Uh-huh.

KN: Do you remember anything in particular you'd like to share that she taught you?

EK: Well, the one thing she taught us was you have to say, "Itadakimasu," when you start eating, and then teach us how to use a chopstick.

KN: What was eating like at the home? Did you eat very much American food?

EK: No, we usually had miso soup and tofu and rice. Once in a while she'd make sushi. You would have loved Grandma. It's too bad you didn't know them.

KN: I know. Can you tell me, I forgot to ask you, but can you tell me where in Fairview the farm was?

EK: It's over there near Blue Lake Park. Now there's a Gresham sewer plant, part of where we were renting, I can't remember what years. We bought a piece of land on the corner, on the south side of the sewer plant, there was an acre and a half there. And they had to expand, and they couldn't go north because there was a railroad track, and they wanted my piece so bad, they really gave us a good price on it. And so we sold it, and I moved to Summer Place.

KN: And that was all after the war?

EK: Yeah, we had a real good price. It was the end of the year, and we didn't have to pay taxes. They took care of everything, even, they helped us move. This Globe moving van came and took everything and repacked it.

KN: And do you remember the street names of where the farm was?

EK: Well, it was on Sandy Boulevard.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

KN: Did you like going to school?

EK: Uh-huh.

KN: What was your favorite part of school?

EK: Recess. [Laughs]

KN: What did you do at recess?

EK: Well, there was a swing, teeter-totter, we used to... I remember playing with the boys. There weren't enough boys, so I used to play baseball and soccer.

KN: You must have been pretty good.

EK: Uh-huh, I liked all sports.

KN: What was your favorite subjects in school?

EK: Geography. [Laughs]

KN: And did you have any nicknames when you were in school with your classmates? Any nicknames?

EK: No, I was called by my Japanese name.

KN: And did you go to Japanese school?

EK: Uh-huh. We went after school, I think it was three times (a week), and on Saturdays. Started at six o'clock, (...) we'd study 'til (8:00). And of course, it was night, so my dad would come and pick us up. And we had a teacher that came from Japan.

KN: Where was Japanese school at?

EK: Well, I don't know exactly what you mean.

KN: Like was it in Gresham?

EK: No, it was in Fairview. There was a farmer that loaned us a house there, and then we studied there, we had a desk made in the Japanese form, desk, and we had to stand up when we started school and bow to the teacher. [Laughs] And then when we had to go home, we'd stand up and bow and say, "Sayonara."

KN: How many students were in class?

EK: Oh, there must have been thirty, thirty-five. We had a small community, Japanese community there, they all send their children to school.

KN: Was that just Fairview alone, or was it Fairview and Gresham?

EK: No, Gresham had another school, but there was a family that came from Gresham.

KN: What did you do during the summer when you weren't in school?

EK: I helped the family, of course, and then of course I had to study Japanese.

KN: Was there any activities that you would do with your brothers and sisters or any games, or play sports?

EK: No. we used to play baseball. And what I remember I used to like to do was play marbles. We made four little holes on the corner, and I challenged my brother, I'd get all their marbles. [Laughs]

KN: And living close to Blue Lake, did you ever go down to the lake?

EK: Uh-huh. It was just a lake. It isn't like it was now, but we used to walk down during the summer and then we'd swim and paddle there.

KN: And you had mentioned that on the farm that there were railroad tracks?

EK: Yeah, there was a railroad track that ran through there.

KN: So was that, the railroad went right straight through the farm?

EK: Uh-huh, Union Pacific. And then there's another one, the Amtrak, the Union Pacific on top, so we were in between.

KN: What was that like to have the train going through your yard?

EK: Well, it's noisy. And then I kind of remember, you know what hobos are? Well, they'd stop in and ask Grandma for something to eat, and she'd always give them a jelly sandwich and then they wanted to pay for it, so she'd... chop wood or clean up the garden. But I was kind of afraid of them, you know, but they were harmless. But you don't see those anymore.

KN: When there were lots of work to be done on the farm, did your father hire people to help?

EK: Uh-huh, (from the farm selling vegetables).

KN: And were they...

EK: They were all from Japan, that they came to look for work, and during the summer, we needed help, we'd hire 'em.

KN: Can you tell me about some of the Japanese events that occurred in the community like Obons and things like that?

EK: No, I don't remember. Only thing I remember is at New Year's, we'd all get together and have a feast, but I don't remember other than that.

KN: Did you ever come into Portland and to Nihonmachi very often?

EK: [Nods]

KN: How did you get into Portland?

EK: Well, my dad, I kind of remember, there was a Sears Roebuck store right here, and before school started, Mom and Dad would bring us there and buy everything for the year. But I don't remember coming too often.

KN: Did your parents have a car?

EK: Not a car, but it was a truck. And I remember, I don't know, but it had, it wasn't a tire like they have now, it was... I don't know what you call it, it was on a... it wasn't a balloon tire like, it was a truck is the only thing we had. And then later, of course, he had enough funds so we bought a car.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

KN: Can you tell me about where your father would, you lived on the farm and had vegetables and fruits. What would you do with the vegetables and fruits?

EK: Well, there was a big wholesale market here in, I think it was on Morrison. Every morning the grocery store and they all came there and brought the stuff, and he'd get up at two o'clock in the morning and take the produce there, and he'd sell. That's the way we got rid of our, he got rid of that produce. And I sometimes used to go, get up at two o'clock in the morning and go with him, and the only reason I liked to go was he used to take us to breakfast, which we had. [Laughs]

KN: And where, what kind of breakfast was it? Was it American breakfast?

EK: Toast, eggs. [Laughs]

KN: And was it the same restaurant every time?

EK: No. Of course, 'cause at home, we just had, morning, my mom would have rice and miso soup. Once in a while we'd get boiled egg or something.

KN: What else do you remember about coming in to sell the vegetables? Were there a lot of other Japanese people?

EK: Japanese and a lot of Italian farmers and other... yeah.

KN: Did you or did your parents, when you were young, did you ever go back to Japan?

EK: Several times.

KN: When you were young?

EK: No, it was after I was married, and the first time I went was in 1969. All the girls were in school.

KN: And what about, what about your parents? Did they ever go back to Japan? Your parents, did they go back?

EK: No, they didn't get to. They didn't have a chance to go, because my father, I had a cousin that he sent to school in Tokyo, two cousins, and one was a doctor. He sent the money, so they never got a chance to go. He used all that money and sent it to Japan and helped his older brother.

KN: And so the money that he sent, was that from the farm or the money that he would make selling vegetables?

EK: Uh-huh.

KN: What other things do you remember growing up that were bought in the house? American things, Japanese things? Was there anything that your mother or your father really prided having, like a sewing machine?

EK: Oh, yeah, she had a sewing machine, she taught me how to sew, an old Singer machine. And, of course, she taught me how to crochet and knit. Of course, the Japanese language are the most important.

KN: And what about your father? Did he have any tools that...

EK: Oh, yes. He liked to do carpentry work, and so he made a lot of things for us.

KN: Can you, do you remember one of the things that he made, like what kinds of things?

EK: Well, I don't exactly remember, but I remember when we went to camp, he'd find these loose lumber that were thrown out. He made us desks and chairs, and he just loved to do carpentry work.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

KN: Can you tell me when you met your husband?

EK: Well, he was boarding when he came from Japan with this Japanese family, a friend of my father's. And he used to come back and forth. And so I knew him since we were real young. And finally when I finished high school, he came and said could we get married. [Laughs] So that's the only boyfriend I had, or what do you call it.

KN: And how old, how much older is he then?

EK: He was born here, he went back to Japan when he was five and finished school, finished high school, and he came back here. Let's see, I can't remember what year it was, but anyway, he came back and was boarding with the Japanese family. And he worked in the grocery store most of the time.

KN: And what year were you married?

EK: That was, let's see, 1938, year after I finished high school, and Joyce was born in '39.

KN: And what did you do to celebrate your marriage? Did you have a wedding?

EK: Uh-huh. I had a Japanese Shinto wedding.

KN: And where was that at?

EK: There's a church here that's called Konko church, and that's where -- this isn't the original one, but that's where we were married.

KN: And is that here in downtown Portland?

EK: Hmm?

KN: Was that in downtown Portland?

EK: Uh-huh.

KN: And did you go anywhere for your honeymoon?

EK: San Francisco. Borrowed our family car.

KN: So you drove all the way to San Francisco?

EK: Uh-huh.

KN: What date was it that you got married?

EK: January...

KN: And what do you remember about your trip to San Francisco?

EK: Well, it was the first time I'd really gone so far, and it was nice. We stopped at several places, spent the night.

KN: You mentioned that that's the first time that you'd really gone outside. Did you ever do any traveling when you were young?

EK: No, I never did have a chance, we just didn't have time. But then, of course, when we had our own farm, when the girls grew up, every summer, my husband we'd take the girls, we went to... I don't know, we'd take a couple of weeks off just before school started and we'd take off to the coast.

KN: Did growing up with your parents and your siblings, did you go to the coast or to the mountain?

EK: Uh-huh, uh-huh. My father used to like to go to Newport, crab. [Laughs] You can't get good crab anymore, they're so expensive. I haven't had a real crab in I don't know how long.

KN: So that must have been a nice treat, huh?

EK: Uh-huh.

KN: Would you bring it home and then would you cook it with Japanese food?

EK: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

KN: I'm going to transition into Pearl Harbor now, okay?

EK: Okay.

KN: So can you tell me how old you were and where you were when you heard about...

EK: Well, we were at this farm on Sandy, and I think January... December 7th, in the evening, I heard on the radio, and I thought, "Well, now what's going to happen to us?"

KN: And who was with you at that time?

EK: Well, the whole family. I had Joyce, and the parents were living with us. And then there was a couple of hired help was on the farm with us.

KN: And were you living in the same house with your parents at that time?

EK: Uh-huh.

KN: And was there any discussion with the family or with your siblings about what was going to happen?

EK: No. We just didn't, just didn't.

KN: And what happened the next day, or the next few days after going to school and in the neighborhood?

EK: Well, of course, I wasn't going to school, but I don't know. I just... lost. I didn't know what we were going to do or what they were going to do to us.

KN: What were some of your fears?

EK: Well, I don't know. I just didn't have any feeling. I just didn't know what was going to happen.

KN: Did you notice anyone treating you differently? Did anyone treat you differently, like at the grocery store?

EK: Well, we had a real wonderful neighbor that looked after us, and she used to... and then when we had to go to the assembly center, she took us there.

KN: Was there more prejudice and discrimination after Pearl Harbor? Do you remember anything in particular that happened to you?

EK: Well, there wasn't much, but one thing that I remember, there was a Red and White store in Fairview. I didn't know where to go when we first came back, and I got in the door, and said, "You're a Jap. Get out of here. We don't trade with Japs." So that was then, but then I don't know if you remember the Zimmerman store, that Carl was wonderful and he took care of us.

KN: And that was before you had left for the assembly center? Was that before?

EK: No, that was after.

KN: When you came home?

EK: Uh-huh.

KN: What about before? Did you have any problems buying anything?

EK: No, we didn't.

KN: And do you remember if there were any incidences at school or in the community?

EK: No, I don't. Teachers were very understanding.

KN: And was there any talk about the war after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in your house?

EK: No.

KN: Did anyone in the family get arrested?

EK: No, my dad was ready to go, had his suitcase ready because several of these people here in Portland and Gresham were taken to the special camps, but no, he was one of the lucky ones.

KN: Why was he ready to go? Why did he think he was...

EK: Well, he used to be, we had a Japanese community... what do you call it? Anyway, he used to be president, and he was pretty prominent in Gresham-Troutdale, and so he figured he might be picked up. But luckily he wasn't.

KN: And when that was going on, what did you and your siblings and your husband and your mother do to prepare for that?

EK: Well, we got notice, of course, and so we had to prepare to go to camp.

KN: How did you get that notice?

EK: Down to what?

KN: How did you get that notice?

EK: This good friend of ours looked after us.

KN: When the executive order came out, the executive order, how did you hear about executive order?

EK: I still didn't...

KN: The Executive Order 9066? How did you hear about that?

EK: The radio. There was a notice that went around, too.

KN: And how did that notice go around?

EK: I just don't remember.

KN: Were there notices in the community, like pasted up on billboards?

EK: Uh-huh.

KN: And getting prepared to leave, what were you thinking and what were you feeling?

EK: Well, I thought we'd never come home, is the only feeling I have. Of course, it felt like it was a duty that we had to do anyway, being a good citizen. And I still can't, still couldn't understand why good citizens had to.

KN: And at that time, you had mentioned that you had your oldest daughter Joyce. Did you have any other children?

EK: No. The second one was born in camp. Joyce was three years old.

KN: And how was life, you know, for Joyce? Did she have a lot of Japanese friends at that time?

EK: Uh-uh.

KN: What did you think of to pack? How did you know what to pack?

EK: Well, I was really concerned about our in-laws in Japan, wondering what's going to happen to them.

KN: And did you ever communicate to find out what happened to them?

EK: You know, Switzerland was neutral, and the Red Cross took us over a couple of times, we sent messages and message came back. We told them we were safe, we were in camp, but then we got a message back several months later from the Red Cross saying Japanese families are secure and safe. Of course, no letters went by.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

KN: And getting ready to leave to go to the relocation center, what did you do to prepare the house?

EK: Well, we tried to... of course, we couldn't have camera and other things, we burned a lot of stuff because we were afraid. And then, of course, we had to prepare. We can only take what we can carry, and of course, I had Joyce's stuff to carry. [Laughs] So we managed.

KN: What kind of things did you have to burn?

EK: Well, we had, I had a lot of Japanese books and records, and I don't remember, photographs of relatives, we burned everything that connected to Japan.

KN: How did that make you feel?

EK: Awful. We thought, "Oh my gosh, everything is going."

KN: Did you have any idea about how long you were going to be gone?

EK: No, I didn't have any idea. I didn't know how long it was going to... but I sort of felt kind of safe in camp, so, you know, with the sentries on the corner, you know they can't differentiate Japanese and Koreans and Chinese, and so I thought if we were outside, you never know what's going to happen.

KN: Did you feel safe in your house before you left?

EK: No, I didn't. But the neighbors were real considerate, and so I felt kind of safe.

KN: Did the family take any precautions to make sure that there was no intruders, or someone didn't come and hurt you?

EK: Well, I kind of remember we always locked the door and pulled the blinds down so they couldn't see through. But the neighbors all were understanding. So unless an outsider came along...

KN: Did you have any outsiders come along?

EK: No, we never did.

KN: What did your parents to do prepare to leave the farm?

EK: Well, of course, we had to try to get rid of everything. And we tried to store some stuff, but we did store some, but when we came back, of course, maybe I said, there was nothing left. It was either stolen or burned. So we had to start all over again.

KN: Where did you store them at?

EK: Well, we stored part of it in our house. We locked it, but of course, I knew it wasn't safe, but there was no other place to put it. So we had a big barn and we stored something there, but there was nothing left when we came back.

KN: And did you have any friends that were going to help you look after the place?

EK: Uh-huh, we did.

KN: Can you tell me a little bit more about that?

EK: Well, there was a good neighbor of ours that sort of looked after our things, but then, of course, she couldn't do anything if things were stolen. And we had neighbors on both sides that were real good to us, they really understood what was going on.

KN: What were some of the things that were stolen or that were broken when you came back that you really missed the most?

EK: Well, we had a lot of bedding and kitchen articles and pictures of Joyce. Nothing was left.


KN: Getting ready to leave to go to the assembly center, what did you pack in your suitcase?

EK: Well, of course, Joyce's stuff that I had to carry, and underwear, you know, the essentials, medication. It was just what we can carry. And of course Joyce had her favorite toy that she had to carry. She just carried that around. [Laughs]

KN: What kind of toy was it? Was it a doll?

EK: Well, you know what it was, was an old blanket. She wouldn't let go, she had it every day, and I don't know how long she had it. [Laughs] Oh yeah, and she had the one favorite doll that she had.

KN: And what can you tell me, do you remember about your parents packing anything? What was important to them?

EK: Well, I don't know too much, but of course, everyday essentials.

KN: And how did you leave to go to the assembly center?

EK: Well, a friend of ours took us there, and they come and visit us periodically before we went to relocation camp.

KN: And did your friend just take you and your husband and Joyce, or did he take the entire family, the Namba family?

EK: Yeah, uh-huh.

KN: And how did you know when to leave? Did they give you a certain date that you had to report?

EK: Uh-huh.

KN: And how did you find out about that date?

EK: Well, we got a notice someplace, I can't remember how.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

KN: What can you tell me that you remember about the assembly center?

EK: Well, we had one of the hottest summers, and went up to a hundred and four degrees. And you know it was a stock yard. Well, there was one layer of floor, and then come along and water that down, and oh, the smell, that's the only thing I can remember. And then another thing I remember was this little apartment that we lived in didn't have a door, it had a canvas curtain thing on it, and it was open outside. And at night, you can hear people snoring and crying. There was one man that lived next door, he used to sing in the middle of the night. [Laughs]

KN: Did you live, were your quarters at the assembly center, was it just for your family or did you live...

EK: Yeah, just my family, Joyce and my husband, three of us.

KN: And were you able to be close to your parents?

EK: Uh-huh.

KN: And what was that like for... did they communicate anything to you about what it was like for them and what they were going through?

EK: Well, of course, we had friends, and we couldn't communicate outside, so people from the community that we lived and the friends that they knew, and I think they had sort of a gathering that they talked about.

KN: And what did you do while you were you were in the relocation center?

EK: Relocation center? Well, there was a lot of things, activities, pictures, and of course the kids had school to go to.

KN: What kind of activities?

EK: Oh, there was crafting, sewing class, Japanese reading classes, and I can't remember, but anyway, we tried to get out.

KN: What kind of food did you eat in the assembly center?

EK: Well, we had a mixture, we had a Japanese cook, and we got everything from the government. So sometimes it would be just spaghetti and meatballs. Sometimes we'd have Japanese rice and miso soup and sukiyaki, whatever they can send to us.

KN: So it wasn't like the normal food that you were eating before, huh?

EK: Not usually. [Laughs]

KN: Do you know what your mother and your father did in the assembly center?

EK: In assembly center, well, there wasn't much that they'd do, friends gathered and gossiped and passed the time.

KN: How long were you in the assembly center for?

EK: Let's see. We went there in... can't remember what day it was. Anyway, we left in September. I think it was the end of May, I can't remember, I think we were there during the summer.

KN: Did anyone talk about the war or talk about why you were there?

EK: [Shakes head]

KN: How did you feel about it? How did you feel about being, living in the stock yard?

EK: Well, it wasn't pleasant, of course, and I thought, "Why in the world they put us good citizens? What about the Germans and the Italians?" I couldn't understand that.

KN: Were you able to have any visitors?

EK: Uh-huh. We had several Caucasian visitors that came and visited us. And if there was something that we needed, they'd go and get it for us.

KN: Do you remember anything in particular, any visitor that you remember?

EK: No, I don't remember. Anyway, our neighbors were real good to us.

KN: What would they bring to you?

EK: Well, I remember one day my daughter needed a pair of shoes, and so they went and got a pair of shoes for 'em, and then I think there's some food that we wanted, like Joyce wanted... I can't remember what, but we didn't get enough milk, I remember. And so they'd come quite often. Of course, we didn't have any refrigeration, so we put that stuff in cold water and had to use it up quick.

KN: What were the facilities like, the bathrooms and the showers?

EK: Terrible. It's a community shower, toilets were community.

KN: Was there any challenges or anything? Because I know Japanese people were usually very private. Was there a change for your mother and some of the older, the elders, to be in a community bathroom?

EK: Well, they just took it for granted that's the way it's gonna be, so they couldn't change it.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

KN: How did you know when you were going to be leaving the assembly center to go to Minidoka?

EK: Got notice from the government. They went around.

KN: And was that notice, like, in writing, or was it verbal?

EK: Written.

KN: Written notice?

EK: Uh-huh.

KN: And as people were leaving the assembly center, did everyone leave on the same day?

EK: No. My folks went earlier, and they saved us a room close to where they got a room. But we left the day after, I remember.

KN: And what was that like leaving the assembly center, leaving Portland, and did you know where you were going?

EK: Well, I knew where we were going, but I didn't know exactly at that time.

KN: And can you tell me about -- now, did you go from the assembly center to the train station? Did you take a train?

EK: No, the government took us to the train station. We had an old train, I think it was the Union Pacific. It broke down on the way, I remember, and we had to spend the night in the train. The axle broke or something, and they had to get it fixed. And when we went through Pendleton, you know, there's a military base there. We had to pull all the blinds down and keep quiet.

KN: What were your feelings like when you were on the train and going out to Minidoka? Were you thinking about the war and did anyone talk about the war?

EK: No. Only thing is we got separated. My husband got to, they had a regular men's section, and we got an upper deck for my daughter, and we got to sleep. And so Joyce would say, "Where's Daddy? Where's Daddy?"

KN: Was that on the train you're talking about?

EK: Uh-huh.

KN: And was that like that for a lot of families, that they got separated?

EK: Uh-huh, if we had children we got this living section, and, of course they're separated from the husbands.

KN: Do you remember how long it took on train to get out to Minidoka?

EK: I think it was a good two whole days.

KN: And did they make any steps along the way for you to get out and stretch?

EK: Uh-huh. They just let us out where it's remote, where there's no... you know how it is. They didn't want anybody to see us.

KN: And what about eating along the way? Did the government provide food for you to eat?

EK: Lunch, uh-huh.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

KN: What was it like when you got to Minidoka?

EK: Well, we got to this vacant room they assigned to us. There was one bulb sitting in the middle, and a great big potbelly stove, we had to go get our coal and dust, it's terrible. And then we had to get our own mattress, we'd fill this big long thing with straw. Luckily, Joyce got a good mattress. If you had children, it was a small room, and then next, people that lived next door were real good to us. They were there before, and they brought us water and told us where the bathroom was and where the mess hall was.

KN: How far away was all of that?

EK: Well, it was very close to where we were living.

KN: And how did you make your environment and your new living quarters feel like home for you?

EK: Well, we just did what we usually did, we could, and then we mail ordered a lot of Montgomery Ward, and so I remember we had to buy... they got army blankets and peacoats, you know what they are? [Laughs] And, of course, the children didn't have anything, so I had to buy stuff for Joyce.

KN: How did you get the money to buy the stuff?

EK: Well, I think every month we were, clothing allowance. And it's just a bare, but I saved it so I could buy stuff for Joyce. Everybody got clothing. I don't remember how much it was.

KN: Were there any jobs in the camp that --

EK: There was all kinds of jobs. My father went out, he went out, he did carpentry, and he worked on the farm. My mother worked in the mess hall, and my husband liked, he worked for an electrician and he learned the trade.

KN: So they got paid for doing all that.

EK: Oh, yeah, there was all kinds of jobs.

KN: When you're in Minidoka, how old was Joyce?

EK: Three.

KN: Did, while she was in Minidoka, did she start going to school there?

EK: Kindergarten.

KN: So they had classes --

EK: Oh yeah, they had good teachers. Teachers from outside and a lot of Japanese teachers, and we had good doctors and nurses and they're real good facility at the hospital.

KN: Were most of the people that, were they Japanese?

EK: Yeah, there was a lot of other Caucasians.

KN: When you guys were in Minidoka, what did you talk about? What did you do?

EK: Well, we all tried to go to these activities, and they had movies, and I don't remember what. But anyway, there was a lot of teachers, sewing classes, Japanese classes, anything that you want. They're trying to keep us busy.

KN: And while you were in Minidoka, did you have any more children?

EK: Yes, I had one, Gail was born in camp in 1943.

KN: What was it like giving birth to your daughter in camp?

EK: Well, the hospitals were very good, good doctor from California, and so I didn't have any problem. But then it is a great big ward, I think there was about eight or ten of us in that ward. In November, everybody had babies at that time.

KN: When you were in Minidoka, did you ever hear from any of your friends or neighbors here in Portland?

EK: Neighbor used to write to us what was happening to the place.

KN: What neighbor was that?

EK: Well, her name was Lyla Fitzgerald. She lived next door and she kept us track what was going on.

KN: And was she storing some of the stuff for you?

EK: No, no.

KN: What did your parents' (...) room and their quarters look like and how were things for them?

EK: Well, of course, it was real bare at first, but gradually we found stuff. Of course, I told you my father made stuff from wood.

KN: What about your siblings? What did they do?

EK: Well, Gail was small, but Joyce went to school and made friends.

KN: And did you ever see your sister or your brothers in Minidoka?

EK: In Minidoka?

KN: Did you see them very often?

EK: Of course, my brother, three of them volunteered, you know, Tom and Kenny and Aki, and my sister worked at the hospital, I remember.

KN: And what did she do at the hospital?

EK: I think she worked for a dentist. She worked as a dentist assistant in Portland before we left, and I think that's what she did.

KN: Did you do any, did you work in the camps?

EK: I didn't do any, just enough to take care of the girls. What I remember is Kenny and Tom and Aki were writing English. Of course, parents couldn't understand. I did a lot of translation.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

KN: When the "loyalty questionnaire" starting going through camp, what kind of emotions and what were people talking about when they started, when the "loyalty questionnaire" went?

EK: Well, "When are we gonna get out? When are we gonna get out?" But a lot of the young people went back east, went to school or got jobs. We were encouraged to leave, but of course, we had those two children and I wasn't gonna leave, so of course, only place we can go back is the coast. But back east, you could.

KN: Did you see a lot of your friends leave and go back east that were single?

EK: Well, I knew several that went back to school, got in.

KN: Did you communicate with them and did they...

EK: No, I never did. But the one thing I was going to say is when I went to Summer Place, people that came from Mideast, "You went to camp? What kind of camp is it?" They didn't know we even went to camp.

KN: What was it like when you started to see people, or see young men start leaving when they enlisted?

EK: Well, I thought, well, I just figured I don't think any of them would come back. But luckily my brothers all came back. Kenny -- maybe you know -- Kenny got really hurt then.

KN: And what was that like for your parents when they found out that their boys were going to be leaving?

EK: Well, they thought it was their duty, they didn't have any complaints.

KN: And when your brother Kenny got hurt, how did you guys found out about that?

EK: I think it was through the military. We got a yellow notice if a person died or got hurt. And so if you see that person carrying that and come to your door, you know something was wrong, and that's what we found out about Kenny.

KN: And what was it like after your parents found out?

EK: Well, we just figured he'll be safe is all, and we prayed for. I don't think Tom was hurt, but Kenny was really... of course, Aki went after the war, occupational force.

KN: When you had heard about the ending of the war in Europe, did you think that you guys, that you would be getting to go home soon?

EK: Uh-huh.

KN: What kind of feelings and what kind of conversations were happening in Minidoka?

EK: Well, one thing, maybe I told you about Joyce going to this one-room school, and I thought this was no place for her. So that's the reason we made the decision to go back to Fairview, and then these Italian people were real good to us, so they took us in.


KN: So right before we stopped, you were talking about Joyce and her blanket. Can you tell me that story again?

EK: Well, it's a security blanket, she carried it from home. And when we got there, she wouldn't let go, and the first thing she said, "Mom, I want to go home, I want go home." And I said, "This is your home." "When are we going home?" Every night, I don't know how many nights.


KN: Can you also talk a little bit about what it was like at Minidoka for your father, being a farmer? Were there farms at Minidoka and did he do any farming at Minidoka?

EK: No, he just worked at the farm. They had pigs, chicken, and whatever extra we had, they sent it to the other relocation places. And then outside he used to work for the, as a carpentry.

KN: When you were getting ready to leave Minidoka after you had heard the war was over, what were your feelings like?

EK: Well, I don't know. I didn't have much feeling, I just thought, well, kind of glad to get out of here is all. [Laughs]

KN: And how did you hear about the war being over and you being able to go?

EK: Well, I don't know. I didn't know how safe I was, for one thing.

KN: Why were you concerned about safety?

EK: Well, still, there was... you know how people were still feeling.

KN: Had you heard of any stories that made you feel unsafe?

EK: There wasn't much. I didn't feel unsafe, I felt safe around the neighbors where we lived, so they were real good neighbors.

KN: And are those neighbors, are you talking about the neighbors when you came back to Fairview?

EK: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

KN: Let's talk about leaving Minidoka. What did you, how did you leave Minidoka?

EK: Well, there was this Simplot family farm wanted workers, so my husband applied. And he got a job, and we moved to Jamieson, a small town near Twin Falls, and we stayed there a year (...). I told you Joyce went to this school, and I figured, well, I think one teacher had more recesses than necessary. [Laughs] And I figured, well, this is not going to work. So then this neighbor of ours, Cereghinos, Italian family, wanted help, so there was a Japanese family that already lived there, (were good friends) of ours (who) asked us if we'd come back to Fairview and work for Cereghinos, so that's how we came back to Fairview.

KN: How did you come back to Fairview? Was it on a train or by car?

EK: No. Kenny's, Ruth's family had a truck, and this friend of ours that worked there went and borrowed this truck, and he helped us move over, and we stayed one night at Inukais, I remember, and then we moved to this house (the Cereghinos) farmer had and stayed there until we got settled.

KN: [Coughs] Excuse me. What was it like coming back to the community that you left? What were your feelings?

EK: Well, my neighbors were good, so I felt kind of safe, and I was glad to, my husband was glad to get work to do.

KN: Did things look the same as when you had left? Can you tell me what was different?

EK: Well, I don't know. I just can't explain, the house was different.

KN: But when you came back, were your things safe that you had stored?

EK: Nothing was there. Only thing that I remember was odd, I had a sewing machine, and the government had stored it someplace, and I got it in Minidoka. And I don't know if there was many other things that... I don't know what it is, but I got my sewing machine back.

KN: And you got that back when you were in Fairview?

EK: Uh-huh.

KN: Were your belongings, were they even there? Were they just, everything was stolen?

EK: Everything was stolen.

KN: How was that, how was that like for your parents to come back?

EK: Well, only thing they said, "Well, I guess we'll have to start over." [Laughs]

KN: Where did they come back to when they came back to the area? Did they live with you?

EK: Yeah, they lived with us in this house that the Cereghinos had provided for us, and we were there for seven or eight years, and we got enough money so we bought this acre and a half on Sandy (Blvd).

KN: And is that all in the same area where you grew up?

EK: Uh-huh. But then, of course, that year that we had that (Vanport) flood, well, we just moved. We were living in this house, Cereghinos property, then we just moved up to this house (on) acreage that we rented, Marcia was born in February. But we lost a whole year of crop that we had raised there.

KN: Coming back, your husband, you had mentioned your husband had worked as an electrician in Minidoka. Did he come back to Portland and pursue any career as an electrician?

EK: No.

KN: Did he do anything like that when he came back? When you came back, you had two daughters with you now.

EK: Uh-huh, I had two daughters with me.

KN: How was that like, traveling back with them?

EK: I don't know, we just thought we had something that we had to do.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

KN: Can you talk more about your children and how many children you have and their names?

EK: Well, (...) Marcia... and Elaine lives in Washington. (Gail lives in California, and Joyce lives here in Portland.)

KN: And how many grandchildren do you have?

EK: Three. Three boys.

KN: And no great-grandchildren?

EK: Two, and we're expecting another one.

KN: Can you talk about when you came back, some of the rebuilding experiences? Did you face any discrimination when you came back to Fairview?

EK: No, the only discrimination I had was I told you about that store. Other people were real good to us.

KN: Can you tell us, can you share that experience again about the store? What was the name of the store?

EK: It was the Red and White store. (...) It was a small store and then that was the closest from where I lived. So, of course, first time I needed the grocery when we went back, I walked in, and that's when he said, "No Japs allowed. We don't trade to Japs. Get out of here."

KN: Where would you go for food and groceries?

EK: Well, then I went up to Carl Zimmerman. There was, Parkrose there was an Austrian, I don't know what you call it, but he had a grocery store and he was good to us, too. You know, we had to have, what do you call those, tickets, you know what it is? What was it? For meat and... well, he sometimes said, "Emi, come over, we have butter for you." [Laughs] He'd have it underneath the shelf, and he was good to us.

KN: When you came back to Fairview, was there a Japanese community that was reestablished?

EK: No. Later they just started to come in, but no, there was nobody there at that time.

KN: Were you one of the first people that came back from Minidoka to the area, or were there other people?

EK: Yeah, we were about the first ones. There were several that moved into Gresham, but not in Fairview.

KN: Did you see any of your friends from Minidoka stay in Idaho, or did they all leave and come back to...

EK: No, not all of them came back. A lot of them went back east and got jobs or went to school.

KN: Do you know why that was that they didn't want to come back?

EK: Well, I don't know the reason.

KN: Why did you want to come back?

EK: Well, one thing, like I said, I'd like to come back to the old stomping ground, I guess you'd call it. [Laughs]

KN: What about coming back? Did you, did you feel like you missed anything or had things changed that you wished you would have been a part of, or did your Caucasian friends, did some, like, have babies or get married?

EK: No, not much.

KN: What about Nihonmachi? Can you tell me about how things had changed in downtown Portland and Nihonmachi?

EK: Well, one thing I noticed is Japanese town, there was a great big community, that's all gone. And there was that big Chinatown, and a lot of the Chinese had taken over, I noticed.

KN: So where would Japanese get together for community then after the war?

EK: Well, you know, there's a lot of restaurants there, and people would get together there and have meetings and anniversaries.

KN: Did you still have any fears coming back after the war?

EK: No.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

KN: What have you told your family about your wartime experiences?

EK: Never talked about it too much. I don't know how it is that we just didn't want to talk about it.

KN: Why didn't you... why wouldn't you want to talk about it?

EK: I don't know. It was just an experience that we had, we just want to forget it, I guess.

KN: How do you think that your experience has affected your sense of being Japanese?

EK: Well, I'm kind of glad to be a Japanese. I'm proud of it. [Laughs]

KN: Can you tell me a little bit more about why, what about it that makes you proud?

EK: Well, I don't know. Are you glad you're part Japanese?

KN: I sure am.

EK: Well, see?

KN: I sure am. How do you think the wartime experience affected your parents?

EK: Well, I don't know. For one thing, I know my dad didn't get back to Japan anytime, and I think that's one thing he really regretted. Of course, he sent all that money back to help his family.

KN: Did he continue to send money back after the war?

EK: [Shakes head].

KN: What did your parents do when they came back after the war?

EK: They were retired.

KN: And did they live with you?

EK: Well, part of the time, and he got a job, he liked to garden, so he got a job in Milwaukie at a greenhouse there and my mother and they commuted there for a while until he got sick.

KN: What about you? What did you do after you came back?

EK: What?

KN: What did you do?

EK: Well, I took care of the children. Of course, I helped on the farm, whatever I could do.

KN: What kind of farm did you have? What kind of fruits...

EK: Well, we raised strawberries and row crops.

KN: Lot of hard work.

EK: It's hard work, but then the four girls went to school.

KN: When you guys came back and had the farm, if you needed farm help before the war, your father had hired Japanese people to help on the farm. Were you able to hire Japanese people to help on the farm?

EK: A few, but then you know, there was a lot of good Filipino people (...). They helped us pick berries.

KN: You had mentioned earlier that people from the Midwest didn't know that you had been evacuated and gone to relocation camp. What do you say to people that don't know anything about camp?

EK: Well, I don't know, I can't say. They just... one young person said, "What kind of camp? Was it a girl's camp or a summer camp?" They never heard of a relocation camp.

KN: Did you talk to them about your experiences?

EK: Several times.

KN: What is it that you, when you have a conversation with them, what is it that you try to emphasize or that you want them to know?

EK: Well, they ask several questions, living conditions, how safe it was and all that. So I did a lot of... I know Kenny did, too.

KN: If something like this were to happen again, how would you hope your grandchildren would react to this?

EK: Well, I don't know.

KN: Can you share anything that you've shared with them about your experience?

EK: I have, especially, yeah, the grandkids. 'Cause I was there and their mother was there.

KN: What do you do today to celebrate your Japanese culture that maybe you did or you didn't do before the war?

EK: I don't do much living there. I love to go to Ikoi no Kai and gossip. [Laughs] I won't be able to go after the girls will be gone, but they'll be back, she'll be back in a couple of weeks, so I'll be seeing you there, or your mom.

KN: When you came back, did you feel, when you came back from the war, did you feel like it was okay to be Japanese?

EK: Uh-huh, I was proud to be a Japanese. [Laughs]

KN: And being able to celebrate and do Japanese things there, you didn't have any fear from the community?

EK: Uh-uh.

KN: I'm going to... we're almost done. There's just a couple of things that I want to go back and ask you a couple of questions about that I want to make sure, for the camera, that we get it on tape. When we were talking about, when you were young, and this is before the war, about celebrating Japanese events, and we were talking about the New Year's feast. Can you tell me a little bit more about the New Year's feast, like where was that held at?

EK: Well, I told you we had a little community where I lived. Our house happened to be big, so people would bring food and they'd play cards and then spend a couple of nights. So that's the way we celebrated New Year. And then you know when Girl's Day is in March, well, my mom would make -- you know what mochi is -- and then red rice, and then we'd give it around to the neighbor. And then there was Boy's Day in May, and that's about all I can remember celebrating Japanese.

KN: How did your neighbors react to getting Japanese foods from your family?

EK: Well, everybody brought something, so you just shared everything.

KN: When you were young, where did you buy, or where did your parents buy Japanese food?

EK: Mostly at the Japanese store in Japantown, and there was a man that used to come every Friday night, Japanese tofu and fish, and so Mom would buy stuff, age.

KN: And he would come all the way out to Fairview?

EK: Yeah, he'd come from the town. He had a little truck that had refrigeration, and he'd come around. He'd have tofu.

KN: Do you want to share anything else with us that you remember or you want to talk about?

EK: No, I think we covered most of the things. Maybe I might think of something, but that's about all. Thank you.

KN: No, thank you. It's been such a pleasure talking to you.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.